I am writing this with my own banned question in mind.

As a suggestion for ban policy:

When a mod decides to ban certain questions which are related to the field or expertise of your site but for some reason or another are not welcome, they should do it constructively. Which means, they should direct the person to a different site where they are more likely to get help with their question. If no such site exists or is not known, then your site is the best shot the person has, and banning the question is not productive. You might not like the question and it might end up not getting any answers at all. Let the community decide what to do with it. Excluding it a priory is not fair without suggesting alternative ways to get help.

What do you think?

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    $\begingroup$ The reasoning for your question being closed is explained in the FAQ. Closed questions are eventually removed from the site, avoiding the situation where the top search results are unanswered questions. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Feb 14 '17 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ To address the weighing of search results by usefulness, other features are already in place like the voting system. I assume, answered questions are weighted more useful compared to ununswered ones. If unanswered questions end up being the top results, it means that no better matches exist. I don't see the problem with that. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ You assume wrongly - top results in sites like Google don't pay any attention to the localised voting here. It's entirely possible for down voted questions to rank well because they mention the search terms and related phrases... $\endgroup$ – Matthew Feb 14 '17 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ Since this site has an internal search engine built in, which surely takes voting and weights into account, I believe it would make more sense to structure the system around its own capabilities instead of tayloring to third party search engines. I believe a logical sequence is: 1) use google to find this site. 2) use this site to find answers on this site. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have the figures about this specific subsite, but for most Stack exchange sites, the vast majority of users come directly from Google searches. Your usage model is the minority $\endgroup$ – Matthew Feb 14 '17 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ As a side note, apart from keywords on a page, google uses the amount of visitors to the page and the amount of referrals to the page as weights to determine usefulness. Surely a highly upvoted question with a lot of answers would prevail over an unanswered one in this regard. In this sense the site internal weights propagate to the outside and the issue you point to is self regulated. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch I am pretty confident that that assumption about Google's internal algos is incorrect (read: too simplistic). This is not 1997 and due to the multitude of signals that Google's AI machines use, the impact of a "vote" at a single page of some SE site is neglible enough to be ignored when it comes to search engine propagation. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Feb 15 '17 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi Wait, but aren't you contradicting yourself, or rather actually supporting my position? It is true that google algorithms have evolved a whole lot and became better at filtering out relevant information. So why would you then go on to assume that these algorithms would fail to recognize the important information on this site as opposed to less important? $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 15 '17 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch Due to (quote) "… the multitude of signals …". Anyway, I'm not sure how a discussion about Google's algos and AI machines helps you make your understanding any better whren it comes to how Stackexchange sites work and - related to Crypto.SE - what's off-topic here and why. After all, your Meta question was about why your question was put on hold et al… not about how Google works. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Feb 15 '17 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi Matthew brought up google as an argument. I am happy to discuss any facette of the argument for or against changing ban policy. But I believe mikeazo's comment to his answer is very fair and settles this discussion anyways. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 15 '17 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch Glad to read that. Makes my upvote to your Q a good decission too. ;) $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Feb 15 '17 at 23:15

First off, we are trying to do a better job at making people feel more welcome here, though we are not perfect.

If no such site exists or is not known, then your site is the best shot the person has, and banning the question is not productive.

I disagree with this. We try to have a well defined scope for our site. Just because no other site exists for which a question would be on topic does not mean our site is automatically the one it should be on. The scope of the site is determined in a few places, 1) the help center, 2) here on meta using , and 3) by using the mechanisms available to users such as marking questions as off-topic and placing them on hold (as was done with your question).

Putting questions on hold (not banning them) is very productive. It helps the community define the scope of the site. In many cases, as a moderator, I try to wait for the community to decide. So I wait until there are at least 3 hold votes already before casting my super-vote. If, however, a question is blatantly off-topic (specifically the type of question has been discussed on meta or is in the help center), I have no problem just casting the first and final hold vote.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess my suggestion is to redefine the scope, roughly as: - anything that is clearly unrelated to the sites topic is out of scope, - anything that is better suited to be asked at a concrete different site gets delegated there, - anything that is related to this sites topic, and for which no better site is known, defaults to be in scope. That would be an inclusive philosophy, making sure that no question ends up in limbo. To address the weighing of search results by usefulness, other features are already in place like the voting system. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch Expanding the scope would do only one thing: increase the quantity of content on the site that is currently considered off-topic, or low quality. This does not sound like a positive or useful change, voting and search result weighting regardless. $\endgroup$ – Xander Feb 14 '17 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Xander Usefulness is relative. Even though my question was put on hold, a single comment I received on it opened up a whole new level of understanding for me. It was certainly very useful and educational for me to ask that question and receive that comment on it. Your definition of usefulness does not seem to be congruent with mine. Unless you want to exclude me from the community, a part of the community benefitted from the question being asked, which makes it useful. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a solution would be to introduce a non-elitist sub-section on the site, for simple questions? $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch, I think the thing you are missing is that the scope is determined by the community. Not by any one individual. The community has decided that those sorts of questions are not what we want. If you want to change the scope, the only way to do that is to become an active member of the community. $\endgroup$ – mikeazo Feb 14 '17 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ I believe there is much truth in what you say. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 15 '17 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Kagaratsch, one thing I wanted to add. You can always check out the chat room for our site. There aren't always a lot of people in there, but a number of people check it daily. That is a good place to chat with people about crypto-topics that are not really on-topic for the regular site. I'd be willing to be that people (myself included) would be willing to help guide you on the specific question you raised. $\endgroup$ – mikeazo Feb 16 '17 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I will definitely pay the chat room a visit as soon as I get a chance to think some more about this puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 16 '17 at 1:40

We cannot function as a site in that manner. For example, questions about kiwis are not appropriate here, nor am I reasonably the right person to try and locate the best place to ask about kiwis. That does not make this the best place to ask about kiwis since I can't find a better one.

Regarding your question in particular, your question lacks quality. You've explicitly told us you won't give us the source information. Nobody else can use it as a reference. Pollution of questions with poor quality drag down the site and eventually remove the pool of people who are here with a desire to answer high-quality questions within the specific focus of the website. The nature of this in analyzing ciphertext (which in your case isn't even provided) goes back to the FAQ and its explanation about why this is poor is discussed in 2011, roughly the birth of this particular Stack Exchange site.

Your question is closed, with prejudice, using a template, because that was a well-discussed as an unwelcome category of question. It does not deserve special adjudication, or grand effort to reply to.

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    $\begingroup$ I did not ask about Kiwis, but rather about deciphering a code, which is well related to cryptography. $\endgroup$ – Kagaratsch Feb 14 '17 at 18:04

First up: your question is not banned! It has been put "on hold" and can be reopened as soon as it is on-topic. So, if you can edit the question in a way that it is not off-topic anymore, just do it!

Now, related to your question/suggestion here at META, it might be insightfull to read "Should we allow questions about amateur ciphers?" as well as the latest community effort "Let's actually vote on our site-specific close reasons! (2016 edition)".

Looking at those questions and answers should help you understand how such rules/boundries are established at Stackexchange sites, and - specifically related to the "on hold" status of your linked question - why questions like the one you posted at Crypto.SE, have been and are currently still treated as "off-topic" at Crypto.SE.

Last but not least it might be a constructive idea to check out our help center (again). Pages like "What topics can I ask about here?" and "What types of questions should I avoid asking?" tend to prevent users from hitting an "on hold" situation and frequently help new users like you to formulate their questions within the rather broad boundries that the Crypto.SE community has established during the past 6+ years.


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